Scope Creep, Part I

Like I said in my previous post, our plans were on a journey through the city for a building permit. In the meantime, I had some repair work to take care of in the office bathroom. We call this the office bath because we use this fifth bedroom as an office, but it’s just another bedroom with its own bath.

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Just your basic bathroom. Tile floor, maple vanity with cultured marble top and small shower.

As an aside, this bathroom originally was a Jack-and-Jill bath between what is now our guest bedroom and the office. At some point the door was closed off to the guest room. We decided to leave it as is because we planned to reconfigure the main bathroom and move it closer to the guest room. Also this bathroom is really too small for two entrances. It’s better as an en suite bath for the office/bedroom.

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The shower is tiny, not even legal by today’s code standard.

The job primarily consisted of fixing old termite damage that had been “repaired” in the past. When I started, I hoped to do this from the crawl space, but soon realized that the damage was far more extensive than we originally thought.

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How not to waterproof a shower pan — a couple layers of asphalt roofing shingles below a concrete mud bed.

The first thing I had to do was get that shower demolished so I could see exactly how bad the damage was. That was a task. These 50-plus-year-old showers are solid. Typically they are constructed by nailing expanded metal lath over the plasterboard or drywall substrate. Then a layer of concrete gets floated over the lath about 1/2- or 3/4-inches thick to establish a flat, plumb wall . Over that the tile is set with another layer of concrete thinset. Now let that assembly sit and cure for half a century, and you can imagine how hard that concrete becomes.

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Tearing out the shower walls. A miserable, dirty, dusty task.

After hours of pounding, busting, prying and tossing piles of debris out the window, I finally had a clean slate.

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Wondering where the framing went? It was too rotten to be saved.

Whoever had done the repairs previously simply tacked on a couple of “support” beams held in place by some cinder blocks half buried in the sand in the crawlspace. They never addressed the cause of the problem (leaky shower) or really opened up the floor to fix things correctly.

Wet wood equals termite food.

Wet wood equals termite food. And the deeper I dug, the more damage I found.

Once I knew how bad things were, there were a couple reasons I decided to simply tear the floor completely out. Not just in the shower area, but the entire bathroom.

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Previous attempts at repair just didn’t go quite far enough.

First, access. Working from above is so much easier than working from the crawlspace.

Second, since I was committed, to fixing this bathroom correctly, (I don’t do half-assed)  it made sense to have my plumber come in and replace the old cast iron drain pipes with new ABS plastic. His bill was bound to be lower if he didn’t have to do the job from below.

Next, I’ll start putting this bathroom back together.

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